Dental Caries: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
Dental caries is by far the most common dental disease, not only in the United States, but also in the whole world. What is more, in terms of general health, this medical condition is superseded only by the common cold. Also known as tooth cavity or decay, this dental disorder is not only discomforting, but can also result in life threatening dental conditions, such as tooth abscess, and lead to loss of the affected tooth when it is not treated early enough.
Therefore, I have decided to put really reliable information into the framework of a series of my articles on how to identify dental caries in its early stages and, therefore, start timely treatment. Secondly, it is really important to discover the possible causes of the dental condition to be able to prevent recurrences of dental caries.
What Is Dental Caries?
Dental caries is a widespread dental condition, which gets triggered by a specific breed of bacteria, known to produce highly concentrated acids during their active lifecycle.
These acids gradually destroy the affected tooth enamel layer, slowly moving to its central, underlying dentin layer, and finally affecting the tooth nerve.
Together with the food debris and saliva, the bacteria which trigger dental caries form a sticky and thick substance called plaque. In its turn, the dental plaque gets unevenly accumulated on the surfaces of the teeth.
Who Is at the Dental Caries High-Risk Group?
According to information provided by ADA experts, there are certain oral cavity areas which are particularly prone to plaque buildup, and thus, are at the high-risk group of the dental caries development.
First of all, these are the back teeth, especially those featuring pits, cracks or grooves. Secondly, the spaces between the teeth generally trap dental plaque. Thirdly, the areas around bridgeworks are particularly vulnerable in the terms of the dental caries development and therefore, should be regularly and carefully checked up. Finally, bacteria which trigger the dental condition commonly inhabit the spaces close to the gum line.
What Causes Dental Caries?
The dental caries problem has become incredibly sharp with the excessive introduction of sugar in our everyday diet. This is because the dental disease is caused by the bacteria which are normally present in the oral cavity and cause no harm, but start uncontrolled breeding in the acidic environment.
The dental bacteria actually feed on the acids and produce new acids during their breeding. Therefore, this seems to be a true vicious circle. Gradually, the acids dissolve the affected tooth enamel layer and form miniature pores in the affected tooth. These tiny holes allow the bacteria to seep into the more vulnerable dentin layer, and from this point on, the dental caries starts revealing its painful symptoms.
However, a sugary diet is not the only source of dental caries. We really should not underestimate the role of dental plaque buildup in the formation of tooth decay. If your oral hygiene routine is not regular or, for instance, you cannot cope with thorough enough teeth-brushing and/or flossing, this will also create the perfect breeding environment for the dental caries-triggering bacteria. In its turn, this will also result in the damage to teeth enamel by the oral cavity acids.
Finally, numerous periodontal diseases are also likely to lead to the arrival of dental caries. The constant exposure of the tooth roots to the receding gums makes them even more vulnerable to the bacteria, since the roots layer is not nearly as thick as the enamel layer.
What Are the Dental Caries Symptoms?
Actually, dental caries reveals hardly any signs, until the bacteria start eating up the affected dentin layer of the tooth. Before that, you will feel no pain or discomfort. At this stage, the only possible symptom of dental caries is an almost invisible chalky white spot on the affected tooth surface or softness of its enamel, when touched with a sharp instrument.
These early warning signs of dental caries can only be determined by a professional. That is why you should never underestimate the importance of regular dental check-ups.
As the bacteria reaches the dentin layer, the affected tooth holes become apparently larger and turn dark. Additionally, the tooth starts reacting painfully to sweet foods and drinks and temperature extremes. As soon as the bacteria triggering dental caries affect the tooth nerves, the pain becomes chronic.
What Exactly Causes the Pain Associated with Dental Caries?
Dental care experts all over the world fail to reach a consensus on exactly when and why the pain associated with dental caries arrives. The majority share the opinion that the acute inflammation triggered by the bacteria is the actual source of the toothache.
However, some medical care experts argue that it is the exposure of the affected tooth roots to the oral cavity environment which causes the pain. Finally, according to the latest medical articles, the ache associated with dental caries is very likely to be triggered by a tubules fluid level imbalance inside the dentin layer.
How Is Dental Caries Treated?
Depending on the severity of dental caries, your dental care provider will offer you one of the following treatment tactics. If you were lucky to have your dental caries identified in its very early stage, you are most likely to get professional advice to use special toothpaste to strengthen your endangered tooth enamel.
The most common treatment procedure for dental caries is a dental filling. Your dental care provider will prescribe it for you whenever the bacteria have already reached the dentin layer of your affected tooth. However, if the dental filling required is too large or the affected tooth is too weak, you are most likely to get a dental cap fitted instead.
Prior to bonding the cap, the dental caries-affected tooth will be thoroughly cleaned by your dentist. However, if the tooth nerve is already damaged by the bacteria, the only treatment solution is a root canal procedure.
How Is Dental Caries Prevented?
The most general dental caries prevention tips include thorough and regular dental flossing, not to mention, brushing. Pay the closest attention to your molars when brushing your teeth. Dental care providers also commonly advise patients who are prone to dental caries to use a fluoride toothpaste. Also, try your best to rinse your mouth with water after each meal.
Apart from that, it will be wise of you to limit the amount of sugary foods in your everyday diet. Many medical care experts also advise combining sticky, chewy foods with other meals, instead of using them as separate snacks, to prevent the development of dental caries.
Finally, remember to visit your dentist regularly, not only for routine professional dental cleanings, but also for check-ups, since the early identification of dental caries is the key to its successful treatment.